It seems some time last month, NBA all-star Kyrie Irving let slip his personal flat-Earth doctrine. Not one to be outshone, Shaq recently bolstered these claims with some logical gymnastics of his own.
“It’s true. The Earth is flat,” O’Neal said. “The Earth is flat. Yeah it is. Yes, it is. Listen, there are three ways to manipulate the mid — what you read, what you see and what you hear. In school, first thing they teach us is, ‘Oh, Columbus discovered America,’ but then he got there, there were some fair-skinned people with the long hair smoking on the peace pipes. So, what does that tell you? Columbus didn’t discover America. So, listen, I drive from coast to coast, and this shit is flat to me. I’m just saying. I drive from Florida to California all the time, and it’s flat to me. I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle, and all that stuff about gravity. Have you looked outside Atlanta lately and seen all these buildings? You mean to tell me that China is under us? China is under us? It’s not. The world is flat.”
Alright. Okay. Now, before we pull out the pitchforks, there are a couple ways we can approach something like this. One way would be to discount the statement entirely, regarding Shaquille O’Neal as little more than a ridiculously good athlete, brand ambassador and sometime actor—you know, somebody who isn’t exactly paid to think. Another way to process this would be to claim sarcasm. After all his time in the limelight, Shaq’s gotta have a pretty solid sense of humor—maybe he’s pulling the interviewer’s leg throughout all this. Then again, there is the obvious, and most depressing, third way to digest this statement: The man actually believes the Earth is flat—in which case, the irony of using the Columbus comparison would be especially poignant, here.
Look, this is coming from the man who played “a 5,000-year-old genie who appears from a magic boombox to grant a boy three wishes,” so you really can’t tell what he might or might not think in terms of how he conceives of the Earth. I, for one, would really like to think he’s just having a laugh.